I’m drawing a line in the sand and taking a side. And I want you to join me.
Over 2 months ago, a divided battle raged within our nation’s legislative chambers. While debate on the Senate floor is typically distorted by hyperbolic rhetoric that covers every tiny nuance of foreign policy, economic ideology, and military defense, the issue at hand seemed to be quite simple in comparison:
“Do we care about women?”
It perplexed me to see our nation’s legislative representatives come within a few votes of answering that question with a resounding “No.”
As Republicans and Democrats laboriously haggled over dollars and cents while slashing government programs in an attempt to reduce the ever-increasing national debt, there seemed to be a swelling tide of bipartisan craftsmanship. Somehow, the two sides had agreed to cut around $38 billion dollars in government spending. But one provision (or “rider”) to a freshly-inked budget bill was preventing its passage. This rider, sponsored by several Republic legislators and passed in the House, included complete severance of government funding to Planned Parenthood.
The GOP maintained that Planned Parenthood funding needed to be cut because it was an unnecessary form of government spending. While it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the absurdity of labeling low-cost and accessible reproductive health services as “unnecessary,” the arguments in support of this rider get worse.
The most nebulous argument for cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood targeted the organization’s abortion services. Some lawmakers overshot hyperbole and simply lied on the Senate floor in a shameless attempt to invoke sociocultural-religious ideologies of the American public. The most brilliantly disgusting example of this fiction came from Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who claimed that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
In reality, abortion encompasses 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. The bulk of the organization’s activities and funding are centered around cancer screening and prevention, STI testing and treatment, and education/contraception.
Furthermore, the GOP’s argument that Planned Parenthood’s abortion services place a financial strain on the federal checkbook is null when one considers the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 rider that prohibits the use of government funds for abortions. In other words, all abortions performed at Planned Parenthood are funded by the private sector and patient fees. The organization’s abortion services do not cost the government a dime.
The obvious question is then, “Why are American lawmakers intent on killing Planned Parenthood?”
The FBI defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense committed against person, property, or society, which is motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a race, religion disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.”
Under this definition, it is a hate crime if a woman is raped because she is black.
It is a hate crime if a woman is raped because she is Jewish and dating a Christian man.
It is a hate crime if a woman is raped because she is homosexual.
However, it is not a hate crime if a woman is raped because she is a woman. Instead, the authorities consider this a “sex crime.” According to the FBI, the motivation of rape is different when a protected class is not involved–i.e., the motivation is sex, not hate. But at its disgusting, hellish core, rape is not about sex. It’s about power–and it’s about hatred.
Yet for some reason, gender is the only class that remains unprotected under hate crime statutes.
…at this point, I have posed two questions that demand answering.
1) Why are American lawmakers intent on killing Planned Parenthood?
2) Why is gender not included in the protected classes of hate crime legislation?
The answer to both of these questions, although simple and startling, is the same:
Our culture hates women.
This is where you must cross the line in the sand and join me. As current and future nursing professionals, we have a tendency to avoid heavy and layered political and social issues. So many of my faculty and classmates are passionate and brilliant–but too often I see them gingerly tiptoe around these types of issues. Sentences start with “I don’t want to be political, but…” and are followed by a restrained blurb of social and political neutrality.
I understand why this approach is the norm–most of us are genuinely nice people, and we don’t want to offend our peers. This is especially true when an issue like abortion is involved. However, it is possible to respect the sociocultural/religious ideologies of certain groups while simultaneously championing patients’ civil rights.
For example: My value system includes unconditional support of a woman’s right to make her own choices about pregnancy and her body. I respect that others have values that conflict with my own. However, when this issue is distorted and used as an argument point in a legislative decision that could result in the elimination of cancer screening and prevention, STI treatment and testing, sex education, and sexual abuse counseling for millions of American girls and women who will otherwise go without these essential services, my obligation to my patients’ health and well-being must take precedent.
Our militant culture has declared a war on women, and at this point, timid advocacy is not enough. To truly protect and promote the health and wellness of our patients, we need to fight. Don your armor. Fend off the hyperbole, twisted distractions, and lies. Counter with an endless fury of logic, empathy, and compassion.
Take the step and dig your heels in the sand. Let’s hold the line.